Personal Finance
Advertiser Disclosure

Global Entry vs. TSA Pre Check: Which Is Better?

TSA precheck & global entry travel guide
iStock

Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links. This content is created independently from TIME’s editorial staff. Learn more about it.

Updated March 11, 2024

If there’s anything you’d like to improve about your airport experience, it’s probably the amount of time you spend there. After all, who wouldn’t be excited to get through the airport faster and with much less hassle?

Fortunately, there are five Trusted Traveler Programs which can drastically reduce the amount of time you spend going through various security processes in the airport. We’re going to compare the two most common: TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.

TSA PreCheck: Overview

TSA Precheck is a program from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that lets you receive expedited security screening at over 200 airports around the U.S. Currently the program is open to:

  • U.S. citizens
  • U.S. nationals
  • Lawful permanent residents

Enrolling in the TSA PreCheck program means you’ll go through a shorter and more streamlined screening process when boarding a flight. This can help you get to your gate more quickly and easily. To enroll in TSA Precheck, you’re required to complete an application online and submit biometric information, such as fingerprints and personal information, for a background check.

With TSA PreCheck, you can skip all the hassle of removing:

You can keep these items on your person or let them stay in your carry-ons. For many, being able to skip out on this alone saves tons of time and makes for a less stressful airport experience.

Global Entry: Overview

If you have ever traveled abroad, coming back to the U.S. includes the cumbersome process of clearing customs before re-entering the U.S. That’s where Global Entry can help. A program run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, it allows expedited clearance for preapproved, low-risk travelers arriving in the United States.

As a participant in the program, you can bypass standard customs lines and proceed straight to an automated kiosk to have your passports and fingerprints scanned. You can also skip out on the physical paperwork often required in the customs process.

To qualify, you must complete an online application, pay a fee, and, as with TSA PreCheck, submit biometric information, such as fingerprints, for an extensive background check. Eligible participants can be any one of the following:

  • U.S. citizens
  • U.S. nationals
  • Lawful permanent residents
  • Select foreign nationals

Global Entry costs $100 for five years and also includes TSA PreCheck benefits.

Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck: Key differences

Although both are Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Trusted Traveler Programs, they serve different purposes. TSA PreCheck is for expedited security when you are on a flight leaving the U.S., while Global Entry helps you clear customs faster when coming into the U.S. from another country. TSA PreCheck covers travel by air, whilet Global Entry covers travel by land, sea, and air, and includes TSA PreCheck benefits.

Global EntryTSA PreCheck
Costs
$100 for five years
$78 for five years; $70 for renewal
Application process
  • Apply online
  • Submit fingerprints and background check
  • In-person interview
  • Apply online
  • Submit fingerprints and background check
  • In-person interview
Availability
58 U.S. Airports and 17 international airports
200+ airports in the U.S.
Key benefits
  • Expedited customs screening for travel by land, sea, and air
  • Includes TSA PreCheck
  • Expedited security screening before boarding a flight

Costs

TSA PreCheck costs $78 for five years and has a $70 renewal fee. Global Entry costs $100 for five years and includes TSA PreCheck benefits.

Application process

TSA PreCheck

  1. Create a Trusted Traveler Programs account at https://ttp.dhs.gov/
  2. Complete the application and pay the $78 fee ($70 for renewal)
  3. Make an appointment to complete your in-person interview, fingerprinting, and background check. Don’t forget to bring your required identification to the application center.
  4. Upon approval, you’ll get your Known Traveler Number (KTN)

Once you receive your KTN, be sure to add it to your airline passenger profiles. Most major airlines (Delta, United, Southwest, etc.) will have a place where you can enter this information on your profile. If you can’t find it, reach out to the customer service team. Once this number is tied to your account, your boarding pass will display the TSA PreCheck symbol when you book flights while logged into your airline account.

Once at the airport, look for the blue and green PreCheck lines. They allow you to bypass the extensive screening process and keep most of your clothing on and your belongings in your bags.

Global Entry

  1. Create a Trusted Traveler Programs account at https://ttp.dhs.gov/
  2. Complete the application and pay the $100 fee
  3. Wait for conditional approval
  4. Make an appointment to complete your in-person interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center
  5. Wait for full approval and receive your PASSID number.

Once you are approved for Global Entry, you can add your PASSID number to your airline account profile. Upon arriving in the U.S. from an international flight, follow the signs to the international arrivals and U.S. Customs area. Then go to the Global Entry kiosk area and follow the prompts on the kiosk. You’ll get a receipt from the kiosk, which you’ll take to a customs agent to get through the screening process faster.

Availability

TSA PreCheck is available in more than 200 U.S. airports for air travel only. Global Entry is available in 58 U.S. airports and 17 international airports. Global Entry also covers travel by land and sea.

Key benefits

The main benefit of these programs is being able to save time with an expedited screening process. Because you are submitting to a prescreening process prior to arriving at the airport, there’s no need for a more extensive screening process once you’re there.

Top credit cards that reimburse application fees

Applying for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry can add to your travel budget, but there are plenty of travel credit cards that will reimburse you for the fees associated with them as part of their rewards programs.

Here’s a highlight of some of the top travel cards to consider to help cover the fees:

Other Trusted Traveler Programs for U.S. citizens

Here are the other three Trusted Traveler Programs for which you may be eligible:

  • SENTRI – Entry into the U.S. from Canada and Mexico
  • NEXUS – Entry into the U.S. from Canada
  • FAST – For truck drivers entering and exiting the U.S. from Canada and Mexico

Do you need TSA PreCheck if you have Global Entry?

If you have Global Entry, you don’t need a separate TSA PreCheck membership because those benefits are included in your Global Entry membership. However, if you only have TSA PreCheck, you will still need to get Global Entry if you’d like a faster re-entry process when coming to the U.S. from abroad.

Having both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck: pros and cons

Pros

  • Expedited security screening when leaving and entering the U.S.
  • Many credit cards reimburse you for the fees for these programs

Cons

  • Global Entry costs slightly more than TSA PreCheck alone
  • Global Entry is not available at as many airports as TSA PreCheck
  • Global Entry application processing times are subject to delays depending on the time of the year

For rates and fees of the card_name, please visit this URL.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How does TSA PreCheck work?

TSA PreCheck is a prescreening program that allows participants to go through the airport security screening process faster. In order to be eligible, you must apply and be approved to use a Known Traveler Number (KTN).

How long does it take to get certified for TSA PreCheck?

The average processing time is three to five days, but it can take as long as 60 days.

Is Global Entry faster if you have TSA PreCheck?

No. These programs operate independently of one another and are used at different points in your travel itinerary.

How do I find my Known Traveler Number?

If you are a member of the TSA PreCheck Application Program, you can look up your KTN online.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

1.2247.0+1.66.11